Sunday 24 September 2017

Gardai to make further arrests as two Irishmen held in global child-porn bust

Two Irish men were questioned earlier this year as part of a Canadian-led probe into a website selling and distributing images of naked children - photo posed
Two Irish men were questioned earlier this year as part of a Canadian-led probe into a website selling and distributing images of naked children - photo posed

Shane Phelan and Ed Carty

FURTHER arrests are expected as part of an international police operation against child abuse and exploitation, which has seen two men detained in Ireland.

Both men were questioned earlier this year as part of a Canadian-led probe into a website selling and distributing images of naked children.

They were among 80 names supplied to gardai last summer by police in Toronto.

It is understood the list was quickly whittled down, with gardai discovering many did not actually live here, while others had died. However, it is understood further arrests are possible. "This is a live operation, so we are not commenting further," a garda spokesman said.

Of the two arrested so far, one man was in his 40s and the other in his 60s. One was arrested in February, it was confirmed last night.

Both were released without charge and files were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

They were pinpointed after their details were linked to a Canadian website selling and distributing videos and images of children.

The revelation comes just over a week after Interpol was handed the details of three Irish suspects who were identified as using child sex webcams in a sting operation mounted by Dutch charity Terre des Hommes.

Police in Canada said the Irish arrests were among 348 worldwide as part of the investigation, code-named Project Spade; 386 children around the world were rescued.

Some 108 of the arrests were in Canada and 76 in the US. Police said doctors, school teachers, foster carers and priests were among those arrested.

The operation involved co-operation with police forces in Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, Greece, Gibraltar, Mexico, Norway, Spain and South Africa and the US.

Toronto police said the children being exploited were mainly from Eastern Europe, in particular Ukraine and Romania. They said adults, including some parents, were paid for videos and images of naked children.

NAIVE

Canadian detectives said they believed many of the parents may have been naive or unaware that the images and footage were intended for sexual purposes.

Details of the arrests were only released yesterday as Canadian police went public about the investigation, which has been ongoing since October 2010.

They allege website operator Brian Way (42), from Toronto, sold the images and films via a website run by his company, Azov Films. Way is facing a series of charges in Canada.

He had been marketing the films he sold as "naturist" videos and denied they amounted to child pornography.

Detectives seized more than 45 terabytes of data and found more than Cad$4m linked to the company.

As part of the investigation, Way's home and a business premises in Toronto were searched.

He was subsequently charged with operating a website that sold and distributed child exploitation films and images to people around the world.

Irish Independent

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